If we were giving out a gong for the Most Improved Manager in the Premier League Eddie Howe would get it
THE job Eddie Howe has done at Newcastle is unbelievable – and I’m quite happy to eat humble pie as far as he’s concerned.
Especially in a week which has seen Frank Lampard’s managerial career take another whack and 68-year-old Sam Allardyce employed by Leeds ahead of other, much younger English bosses.
And not long after septuagenarian Roy Hodgson has been brought back into the game, too, by Palace.
All that only emphasises how good it actually is to have a coach who’s approaching or even in his prime doing the business.
Not least because it’s so soon after lots of us questioned whether or not he actually had what it takes to manage one of our bigger clubs.
Those questions were rightly asked because his Bournemouth side conceded a hell of a lot of goals and were ultimately relegated.
That left many of us wondering not only whether Howe would get a big job after leaving the Cherries, but whether he’d get another Premier League job anytime soon.
He had a little luck in finding
Not only has he got them playing attractive, free-scoring football in no time but he has created a team solid at the back as well
Newcastle because the club was in a position where it needed to grow with him.
But, lo and behold, not only has he got them playing an attractive and free-scoring style of football in no time, but he has created a team which is solid at the back as well.
I’ll stop short of apologising to him because it was fair to criticise the clean-sheet aspect at Bournemouth.
But if we were to give a gong for the most-improved manager in the Premier League in general, regardless of nationality, then right now Howe would get it.
I know that Newcastle made a club-record signing of Alexander Isak and you’d expect one of those to do the business for you.
But I don’t think anybody thought that by bringing in Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn, and polishing Allan Saintmaximin and Joelinton, Sean Longstaff and the like, they would turn into the team they have – and that has to go down to the coaching staff.
So, in a month when English coaches have been much maligned, it is really nice to be able to say, “Well done, Eddie”.
And you wonder now if other big clubs – namely Manchester United,
Liverpool, Manchester City – might be looking at him as their next manager. The fact Newcastle look set to qualify for the Champions League will only enhance his reputation.
But I just hope that, if they do go down the road of significantly opening the purse strings, that it’s not at the cost of the journey they have been on since the Saudi owners came in.
It has been very earthy, very
authentic, with almost a reluctance to go down the route many expected them to and they have been rewarded for it.
Of course, given the size of their pockets, it’s inevitable they will sign ‘galacticos’ at some point, but they ought to focus on signings of the ilk of Trippier if they want to bridge the
gap between a Burn and a Kylian Mbappe. Players who know what it takes to win trophies, but aren’t going to complain about the manager to the owners when they realise, in a few months, that Newcastle isn’t Madrid, Barcelona, Paris or Munich and tell them, after a couple of defeats, they ought to get Carlo Ancelotti in.
Let’s face it, Tottenham have gone to Harry Kane for clear-the-air talks
in the past couple of weeks and Mbappe virtually runs Paris Saint-germain.
I’d hate Newcastle to be that club and, while they will ultimately have the biggest names to get to that point, they’d be better going through such as Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Joao Cancelo.
They are now surplus to requirements at the biggest clubs, but still hungry enough to do a job at the top of the Premier League and in the Champions League.
Arsenal did it with Gabriel Jesus and Oleks Zinchenko and if Newcastle want to continue on their current trajectory, it’s the kind of cute approach they need to take to the summer transfer window.